Busing cuts mean hundreds of students at Geneva Area City Schools have to find own way to school

GENEVA, Ohio -- Facing a budget deficit of about $2 million, Geneva Area City Schools has reduced system-wide busing to state minimums.

That means that, with a few exceptions, every high school student and all students who live within two miles of their building will now have to find their own way to school. That's about 350 students who are affected.

“I don't know what the whole deal is but now that they cut the busing this affects everybody-- their work, their lives, their home life and everything," said Jesse Campbell as he was dropping off his children at school.

But the school district says it didn't have a choice.

It can't run a deficit and it must make cuts to avoid deficits because the state says so.

“We received a designation of pre-fiscal caution from the state and we needed to submit a plan to the state, the office of school finance, and this is one part of that plan," said Geneva Area City Schools Superintendent Eric Kujala.

Kujala tells FOX 8, the system has lost more than $5 million in state funding over the past few years.

Add to that the failure of a levy in November and they had to cut transportation and also some non-teaching jobs in the system this year.  Even if the income tax issue they are proposing for this May passes, the district would still have to look at tightening its belt.

“We're looking at cuts in the certified area of potentially 15 to 20 certified teachers. We're looking at program reductions, class offerings being reduced, some athletics being potentially reduced, potential a consolidation of one of our buildings," Kujala said.

The superintendent says they'll start discussing further cuts next month.

He says they are decisions that won't be easy to make.

“I grew up in the Geneva Area City School District. It's difficult when you know that you're going to impact not only your staff but your community."

The only students whose busing schedules have not changed are students with special needs, and students attending technical school.